CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WEEK) - The Salvation Army has set their holiday season fundraising goal at $1.65 million this year. Enduring a pandemic, The Salvation Army has an even greater need for those they serve this year.
Major Heath Sells with The Salvation Army of Peoria said more people are in need, meaning they can't take a break from bell-ringing this year. "Whether that's looking to put their children in childcare centers or providing shelter, food, and the basic needs that people have," he explained.
Donations are being gathered in the classic red kettles outside many local retailers, but also in more non-traditional ways for those who won't be out shopping this year.
"Many people are not able to donate in front of storefronts like they have in the past. So we would invite them to do so online," explained Sells.
The bells will continue ringing throughout Central Illinois. That includes the north doors at Walmart in Normal. That's the post where you can find Walter Krines. He's been bell-ringing for the Salvation Army for 18 years.
"I stayed at the Salvation Army off and on for 17 years. I thought I'd give back," he explained. His enthusiasm and energy greeting guests is unmatched. And the heavily bearded gentleman also can be heard bellowing a hearty 'Ho-Ho-Ho' to customers as they leave.
"I like to make people smile. Make them happy while they're out here," Krines said. He explained there are many people who need assistance and stay at the Salvation Army shelter. The donations that are collected locally go directly to supporting local families in need, like those at the shelter.
When asked if he'll stop any time soon, Krines replied, "Not as long as I can stand up and walk back and forth and say 'Ho-ho-ho' and 'Merry Christmas'."
The Salvation Army isn't the only organization in the giving spirit this holiday season. Many places are coming together for 'Giving Tuesday' on December 1st.
OSF's Healthcare Foundation is one of those. They have started their '12 Days of Giving Campaign.' They are telling their patients stories to inspire and encourage others who are going through hard times.
"Five-year-old heroes, nurses that go above and beyond for their patients, and families that sometimes are there for months on end and are still hopeful and grateful. And I just felt like those people needed a voice," explained Tara Boehl the annual fund manager for OSF Healthcare Foundation.
They are posting stories every day on the OSF Children's Hospital of Illinois FaceBook page.